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ACU Executives consider Dazzling Technologies in Hyderabad, India

KMi Reporter, Monday 01 December 2008 | Annotate
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The Hyderabad International Convention Centre, India saw the annual meeting of the Executive Heads of Commonweath Universities this week. KMi Director Peter Scott gave an invited talk on "New Channel Thinking: YouTube, iTunes and the live and online world". The Association of Commonwealth Universities, chaired this year by UKOU VC Brenda Gourley arrange a conference each year to allow the Vice Chancellors, from all around the world, to gather together and discuss key common issues. This year, the topic of the conference Friday 28 - Sunday 30 November 2008, was "Dazzling Technologies", so clearly KMi had to be there. This year's event was overshadowed by the terrorism in Mumbai, which was starting just as delegates were starting to gather in the nearby city of Hyderabad. So the social agenda was significantly restricted, and some delegates did not mangage to make it in to the event. Ironically, one of the opening speakers, Lord David Puttnam was unable to leave Bangkok due to the separate trouble there that had closed the airport. However, the event went ahead, and was indeed 'Dazzling'. A few of the speakers, including Lord Puttnam, were able to address the event virtually. In the invited talk, Peter New channels for reaching our current (and prospective) students are appearing constantly in the online world. ACU Vice Chancellors were shown some of the ways that the UK's Open University is starting to exploit these new channels and to make them an effective medium of communication and learning. The UKOU distributes course materials to learners worldwide via its OpenLearn programme, on iTunes U., in YouTube, and via a variety of other 'podcast' channels. Apple's iTunes University concept is an interesting case study in this new, rich channel world. iTunes™ itself was originally an online music platform allowing users to listen to and then purchase tracks of music, which could then be downloaded to portable music devices, MP3 players and iPods. Not only has Apple extended this channel to video, and other forms, such as eBooks, and even games, but they have also opened a University service, 'iTunes U'. Originally only available to North American Universities, Apple have begun to extend this to others in the world. On June 3rd 2008, they extended the iTunes U. channel territories to (UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand). Within four months of this launch date, Oxford and Cambridge Universities also entered the channel and started to connect their own students (and the world) into a more mobile learning vision. In the same week that these two conventional, and highly traditional Universities joined the channel, the Open University on iTunes U. had already shipped over a million audio and video downloads from its courses 'free' to the world (87% outside the UK). What each University is doing in each of these channels (both free or for registered students only); and what real change this work represents is a very interesting question for the future of higher education.

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